Eddie N. Williams
Eddie N. Williams "was raised by his mother following the death of his father, a jazz and blues pianist on Mississippi river boats, when Williams was still young. After earning a journalism degree from the University of Illinois in 1956, he tried to get a job at the Champaign-Urbana Courier where he had worked part time in school, but was rejected when the paper's owner refused to hire blacks. Williams returned to his hometown of Memphis and took a job as managing editor of the Memphis Star-Times, a new black newspaper. He served briefly in the Army and later worked as a reporter in Atlanta before receiving a congressional fellowship to work under Representative James Roosevelt and Senator Hubert H. Humphrey in 1959 and 1960. Williams parlayed his Washington connections to gain a job as a Foreign Service reserve officer with the State Department, where he worked for seven years. In 1969, he was appointed vice president for public affairs at the University of Chicago and director of the University Center for Policy Study.
"In 1972, Williams left his job at the prestigious university to become president of the Joint Center, then a young, small operation in downtown Washington, DC. Under his leadership, the Joint Center grew from providing assistance to black elected officials throughout the country to a nationally recognized policy think tank. The nonpartisan Joint Center examines public policy issues affecting African Americans, and as a result, has developed close partnerships with the Congressional Black Caucus, civil rights organizations and other public policy institutions.
"For his work in promoting black political and public policy influence, Williams has received several awards and honorary degrees. The National Journal named him one of the 150 outsiders who have the greatest impact on the federal government, and in 1988 Williams was named a recipient of a prized MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant." An active member of several professional and civic organizations, he serves as vice chairman of the Black Leadership Forum and formerly headed Sigma Pi Phi fraternity (the Boule). He has served on several corporate boards: Harrah's Entertainment, Grumman, CareFirst BlueCross-BlueShield, and Riggs National Corporation. Williams has three children and is married to Jearline F. Williams."